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The Campaign of 28th of September and an overview about the abortions Laws in Latin America and Caribbean Region

The text has been taken from the following Blog and can be read in [Portugues] there.

28th of September – The Latin-American and Caribbean Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion.

During the 5th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Meeting, in 1990, the feminist movements declared the 28th of September as the Latin American and Caribbean Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion. They considered the complications which resulted by the illegal and clandestine abortion processes to be the first cause of women’s death in most countries.

In the region, the date is celebrated with demonstrations, walks, acts and workshops in order to educate the Latin American and Caribbean society about the high female mortality caused by unsafe and illegal abortions, to discuss the control over the female body, questioning laws, promoting debates, creating political alliances and plotting strategies for action.

This year, the campaign will take place in several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We want to show a panorama of the abortions laws in the region based on the bulletin “Situation of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean” published by the 28th of September Campaign, the main obstacles faced by the Feminist Movements in the region, and current facts which add new aspects in the process.

The main obstacles for the Abortion Legalization in Latin America and Caribbean

The main opposition to the advance of the reproductive rights in Latin America and the Caribbean is found in the religious fundamentalist sector. This sector represents a huge obstacle to the democratic process and to the elaboration of public policies to promote gender equality.

The conservative religious movements base their claims on the protection of the „natural family“ and the preservation of the traditional role of women* within society through interfering in their sexual and reproductive rights. This religious sector is represented by churches and civil organisations which try to implement religious agendas.

The historical influence of the Catholic Church and the most recent influence of the Evangelical Churches in the Latin American and Caribbean political systems result in the translations of religious ideas in laws and public policies that configure among the most restrictive in the world.

One example for the constant attempt of the Church to interfere in the political systems of the region are the efforts during the Constitutional Conventions in Brazil (1988), in Colombia (1991) and in Argentina (1994), in which the Catholic Church tried to establish the idea of life beginning at the moment of conception in the constitution.
Another example are the members of the fundamentalist religious movement who act inside of the state. Some of them hold formal positions within the government and continue to propose laws, like „the Statute of the Unborn“ presented in Brazil (2007), which tries to give absolute priority to the fetus over the mother in any medical decision at the expense of women and their bodies. The statute proposes to ban abortion in every situation.

One peculiarity of the Feminist Movement in Latin American and Caribbean is the strong emphasis in the secularization since the region is still dominated by a strong influence of the Church in the State. The claim for the secularization of the State was relatively out of the political discussions since the end of the dictatorship times and during the re-democratization process, but it mightily came back into discussion thanks to the Feminist Movements. The agenda of the Feminist Movements in the region started to attack the interference of the Church in the State threatening the power of religious fundamentalists groups. The result was that the question on abortion became a central topic in the dispute over the secularity of these States. Thus, the struggle for secularization and the decriminalization of abortion go together in the „young democracies“ of Latin America and Caribbean.

An overview about the abortions Laws in some countries of Latin America and Caribbean

In 2012 Uruguay decriminalized the abortion without restrictions until the 12th week joining Cuba (where the abortion is legalized without restrictions until the 10th week since 1965), Guyana, Puerto Rico and Mexico City. Not coincidently, Mexico and Uruguay are among the most secular countries in Latin America.

In 2007, due to efforts of GIRE (Information Group of Elected Reproduction, Mexico) the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City approved a reform legalizing the abortion without restrictions until the 12th week of pregnancy. However, as Mexico is the only Latin American country were the criminal codes and health laws are determine locally, the legalization did not yet spread to other Mexican states. Instead, after the legalization in Mexico City, 13 mexican states created new amendments to the existing legislation to define the beginning of life at the moment of conception.

In Brasil, in 2004, ANIS (Institute for Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender) filled a legal action to the Brazilian Supreme Court which led to the legalization of the abortion in cases of fetal anencephaly approved in 2012. In March 2013, the Brazilian Medical Council suggested to the National Congress to include in the new Criminal Code, which is being discussed by the brazilian society, the legalization of abortion without restriction until the 12th week. The suggestion has been intensely criticized by the religious sector which used its influence in politics to support the extreme counter proposal called „the Statute of the Unborn“.

In Ecuador, abortion is legal in cases of risk to the woman’s life or rape of mentally disabled women (the basic idea seems to be that mentally healthy women are not raped!) Last year, 2013, the Politician Paola Pablón presented a reform to include the right of abortion to all women victims of rape. The action was reason enough for the president Rafael Correa, who describes himself as a catholic, to declare the act as a „treachery and disloyalty“ and threaten to resign. The result was the retreat of the law by Pablón and protests by the Ecuadorian feminist movements.

Central America and Caribbean are the most restricted places. Seven countries forbid abortion entirely: Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname. The article 128 of the Penal Code in Honduras punishes with three to six years of prison women who induce abortion and in 2009 the congress banned emergency contraception. The new penal code of Nicaragua (2008) determines the imprisonment of women who induce abortions and also health professionals who assist them, banning a law which made abortion legal in order to preserve the woman’s life or in cases of rape for almost 100 years. In Haiti the legislation is the same since 1876 and punishes with imprisonment women and those who have assisted them. In El Salvador, a reform done in 1987 penalizes the abortion with two to eight years of prison. This month, Amnesty International warned El Salvador’s government about the situation of control and repression over the salvadoran women.

El Savador

In Chile the abortion is penalized in all cases, a heritage of Pinochet’s dictatorship. The abortion laws are inside the clauses: „Crimes committed against the familiar order and public morality“ and are considered one of the most restricted in the World. This month, the UN has recommended to Chilean government the legalization of abortion to women under 18 years. Michelle Bachelet, the new president of Chile since March 2014, pronounced herself favorable to the therapeutic abortion in Chile and promised a decision for the last months of 2014.

Some conclusions

The panorama of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean is far from respecting the sexual and reproductive rights of women and providing gender equality. Despite the advances in the legislation in several countries, religious fundamentalism grows and permeates the Latin American political scene signing pacts with governments and hindering the secularization of the States of the region. Both the right and the so-called left goverments, submit themselves to religious pressure and make pacts with these groups in an attempt to get more votes from a largely religious population. Religion continues to use its mass of followers to impose itself on the State and legislate on the lives of Latin American and Caribbean peoples. The struggle to legalize the abortion is emblematic for two reasons:(1) it questions the huge influence of the Church in the Latin American and Caribbean States and strengthens the claim for a Secular State. (2) it changes the panorama of forced poverty, violence and discrimination offering families the opportunity to plan, emancipating women and giving them back the right over their bodies, which for so long has been denied.

Given the state of poverty of most Latin American and Caribbean countries added to its colonial history and the process of destruction of their multiculturalism, the religious and state domination over women’s bodies sets the continuity of the violence that began with the domination and genocide of native people and is perpetuated by controlling the reproductive rights of women. The control of reproductive rights translates into control over the fate and freedom of the Latin American and Caribbean people keeping them on poverty, on a world of violence, discrimination and racism and rigid state control over their bodies.

Abtreibungsrechte Weltweit

1000 Crosses – March of Anti-Abortion Acitivsts

29th of September. Berlin.
Another march of anti-abortion activist will take place.
Protest against it is themed „Marsch für das Leben [Pro Life March]? What the fuck“. At this presentation you will get more information about the event and a joint travel to Berlin could be planed as well.

When: September 10th; 8pm
Where: AZ Conni

‚Smashing‘, speech on 08 May about Trümmerfrauen in Dresden

[German]

The following speech was given at a demonstration in Dresden called ’08 May 1945 Victory in Europe Day (lit. day of liberation) – a day to celebrate‘.

Talking about victim myths and historical revisionism generally becomes slowly established in leftist circles around Dresden.

‘Still very little acknowledgement for their achievements receive, however, Dresden’s “Trümmerfrauen”1’, argues the Frauenstadtarchiv (or ‘Women’s City Archive’). We agree with this, but for very different reasons:

In Germany, the so-called Trümmerfrauen cleared bombed towns from 1945 and into the 50s, and sometimes into the 60s. They removed rubble, demolished remaining ruins, and recycled bricks for rebuilding work. And they rebuilt ‘everything‘: apartment buildings, factories, schools, etc.. Since their physical work was hard, women’s health and safety measures were partially lifted in 1946. As paid workers they were divided into Bauhilfsarbeiterin (builder’s labourers), Trümmerarbeiterin (rubble worker) or Arbeiterin für Enträumungsarbeiten (clearing worker). But there were also unpaid volunteers.

On the worksites, these women*2 weren‘t on their own: Also involved were (German and Allied) professionals, prisoners of war, and former Nazi men* (on orders of the Allies).

The now-defunct right-wing nationalist website truemmerfrauen.de gets the heart of the powerful image of the Trümmerfrau. Along the lines of ‚Others destroyed our homeland, they rebuilt it bare-handedly‘, it states:

’08 May 1945, Germany, completely in ruins. A desert of 500 million cubic metres of rubble and ash. Experts calculated that it would take 30 years to clear the destruction. The experts were mistaken, because they failed to reckon with the women of our country. Even on the first day after the war, they begin work. With an unprecedented personal effort, they did what no one deemed possible. By the time their husbands and sons returned from war captivity, they had already thoroughly cleared up our country. The reconstruction begins and the world is astonished. As Trümmerfrauen, they left a memorial to themselves and to all women of our country.‘

The image of strong German women*, who sacrificed themselves for the country’s reconstruction under cost of great deprivations, worked and still works well for the German way of coming to terms with the past.

After 1945, the blame for the Holocaust and National Socialism was assigned to only a few people. Hitler did it – and maybe Göring and Himmler, too. The majority of ‚common people‘ was therefore able to shirk responsibility and to block out their own guilt.

German Feminism of the 1970s and 80s established a female* version of defence against guilt that is effective to this day: it was only the men involved. In discussions about women’s complicity, it was argued that women were complicit and did contribute, but really only because the patriarchy compelled them into it, so to speak.
Post-war feminists had to ignore that hierarchies between the genders lost precedence in the face of the potency of the ‚Aryan‘ Volksgemeinschaft during National Socialism. In relation to their unity against a shared ‚enemy‘ and esp. against Jews, ‚Aryan‘ women* were equal to men*. They weren‘t merely ‚birthing machines‘.

Their motherhood was highly praised, their work in the household and in the education of children increasingly recognised. The 1938 introduced Mother’s Cross underlines the NSDAP’s efforts in revaluing those ‚Women’s* work‘. ‚On its smallest scale, the struggle against the inner enemy, the undeutsche Geist (un-German spirit), fought‘ in the domestic sphere – said women leader Irene Seydel.3

Women* under National Socialism weren‘t simply timid little housewives, nor were they silent and passive supporters of their husbands. As concentration camp guards, leaders of the League of German Girls, munition workers or informers, women* participated no less enthusiastically than men* in the exclusion and extermination of millions of people. In doing so, the women* of Germany were their male* colleagues‘ equals in every way.

The increase in female* employment after 1933 also undermines the image of the oppressed housewife. One reason was the professionalization of former house chores, but conscription also swiftly removed large sections of the male* population from the workforce. Women’s* occupations were increasingly appreciated, as every member of the Volksgemeinschaft was seen as vital to the community’s continued successful and optimised existence. Then as now, groups – e.g. women* – emancipate(d) themselves precisely when they were needed as war or crisis managers.

The involvement and responsibility of German women* for the atrocities of National Socialism hardly seems to fit in with the image of the Trümmerfrau, which depicted her as a bare-handed woman* who suffered with no burden of responsibility. After all, she didn‘t start the war. She only worries about the children and about the food for the next day. How is it her fault? It’s unfair. But she toughs it out – she’s strong, she’s heroic, she’s selfless. For all of us.

It’s a good thing that women* are so strong and able to bear so much misery. ‚As tough as leather.‘
This readiness to make sacrifices is still honoured with ceremonies, exhibitions and the installation of memorials (such as the one in front of Dresden’s town hall) in honour of the Trümmerfrauen. Moreover, awards and medals were given: in the GDR, the ‚Activist of the Hour‘; in the FRG, the Federal Cross of Honour. The ‚oak planter‘ (Eichenpflanzerin) on the old 50 pfennig piece shouldn‘t be forgotten either.

Various groups of Nazis think that the Trümmerfrauen deserve even more honour. But they‘re not alone in their opinion:
The fringe party ‚Grey Panthers‘, which targets pensioners in particular, has supported Trümmerfrauen since the 80s.
Dresden’s Frauenstadtarchiv has also organised an annual Trümmerfrauen meeting since 2006. The date was ‘deliberately chosen’: the 8th of May, V-E Day! This year, it was postponed to the 23 May – up to now, we couldn‘t find out why. Those discussions of Trümmerfrauen in Dresden’s culture of remembrance involve co-operation with the city archives, Dresden’s equal opportunity commissioner, Dresden’s centre for women’s education called ‘help for self-help’ (lit) and also with schools.
In 2006, the Frauenstadtarchiv also published a brochure4 which is based on interviews with Trümmerfrauen and archive material and whose ‚main aim‘ is to ‚thank all women, who saw the end of the war and its awful consequences as a beginning and not as an end‘ – ‚this generation of women, without whom Dresden after 1945 would have become less rapidly what it is again today – if at all – a new cultural capital known as the ‘Florence of the Elbe’.6

The brochure constantly mourns the ‚downfall of the once Saxon residence‘ Dresden, which is described as a ’symbol of [this] pointless destruction.‘ It talks about an ‚apocalyptical storm of fire‘ with a ‚hungry maw‘ – without even mentioning a German responsibility for the war and destruction. For ‚the longing for peace was also what motivated thousands of women to rebuilt Dresden.‘7 And it’s this longing for peace which seems to make today’s discussions and critical reappraisal of history impossible.
Moreover it says: ‚Most young women and mothers associated the end of the war with the remembrance of the hurtful loss of theirs husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, who became victims of the Nazi-German warfare which trampled over the international law.‘9 Here, even the German soldiers are victims – namely of the warfare.
The 27-paged pamphlet also gives voice to some of the women’s first-hand experiences (the so-called Erlebnisgeneration). Charlotte W. for example complains: ‚For me, it was work of punishment for my family, because my brothers was in the party, in the Nazi-party. My brother was a simple member, because he wanted to study. That’s the way it was. It was kin liability.‘5
If interested, you can read more strokes of fate on your own.

For several years, the working-group of social-democratic women (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialdemokratischer Frauen) also holds a rally on Women’s Day. At which location, you may ask? The Trümmerfrauen memorial. ‚In addition to the honouring of Trümmerfrauen with flowers at the memorial, we want to bring everything that women do and want to do today to mind.‘8 (chairwoman Dorothee Marth 2010)

So much for Dresden.

Last December, two members of the Green Party in Munich took the consequence and covered the local Trümmerfrauen memorial with a brown cloth. The cloth read ‚Memorials for the right ones, not for Old Nazis‘. As a result, a shitstorm broke out, including death threats. In regard to their arguments, Nazis, other right-wing women* and men*, and friends of peace and reconciliation worked hand in hand – they only lacked a human chain or a Monday demonstration.

There is currently no public discussion of Trümmerfrauen or the complicity of women* in Dresden under Nazism. It doesn‘t have to stay that way. Maybe someone sees this as an impulse:
Trümmerfrauen attributed to a fast rebuilding of Germany. The only question is, why this is supposed to be great. In general, no one should have to ruin their spine by crushing stones – for Germany or any other idea. Whoever had to do it on orders of the Allies should be grateful that they didn‘t have it worse.
We can‘t blame each and every Trümmerfrau for having been a Nazi or having supported their ideas. But since this is the case for nearly all Germans, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that it was different for Trümmerfrauen. That they opposed the ideas of National Socialism is the absurd assumption.
German women* were in general neither any less at fault nor less responsible than any other member of the Volksgemeinschaft. The Volk didn‘t stop existing on 08/05/1945. Whenever ‚We are the Volk‘ is shouted on today’s Monday and Saturday demonstrations, it has to be taken seriously.

Antisemitic, anti-romanyist, racist, social-Darwinist and völkisch tendencies have to be fought against.

On 08/05/1945, only military intervention helped. What has to be done from a feminist and critical perspective today, that’s what needs to be discussed.

No peace for the Volk.

  1. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/ [zurück]
  2. 2Even though we recognise categories of gender as constructions, the binary gender system and its ‚natural‘ attributes is a social reality that confronts us ever so often. For this reason, we use the term ‚women‘, but we mark it with an appendix. [zurück]
  3. Radonic http://jungle-world.com/artikel/2006/21/17545.html [zurück]
  4. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/fsa-dresden_broschuere-truemmerfrauen.pdf [zurück]
  5. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/fsa-dresden_broschuere-truemmerfrauen.pdf [zurück]
  6. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/fsa-dresden_broschuere-truemmerfrauen.pdf [zurück]
  7. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/fsa-dresden_broschuere-truemmerfrauen.pdf [zurück]
  8. http://www.spd-frauen-dresden.de/index.php?mod=content&menu=90401&page_id=2074 [zurück]
  9. http://www.frauenstadtarchiv.de/fsa-dresden_broschuere-truemmerfrauen.pdf [zurück]

Open Letter to Femen Germany

Last tuesday we posted this article in German. Here is the Englisch version:

Friday, 25th of January, on Hamburg’s Herbertstraße, Femen attracted public attention with their campaign “Fuck the Sex Industry”. A comparison with the “Third Reich” can’t be denied as some photos on the internet have even been swastika-festooned. A detailed statement? Nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, questions are adding up.
Femen Germany has 1,714 so called Facebook-Likes, the main group has even 80,414. Reason enough for us to ask who these Femen are, what they stand for and what messages they want to propagate. Therefore, we wrote the following open letter.

Open letter to Femen Germany
We, „e*vibes – für eine emanzipatorische praxis“, are a feministic / sexism-critical group located in Dresden, Germany. Last Monday, we got to know about your latest action in Hamburg. After having overcome the first shock, we built up our courage and started writing this letter to you. It’s a letter with just a few of the many pressing questions.

We took a look at the self-conception represented on femen.org, the international website refered to on your national website. It proved to be worth it, as some questions arose immediately:
How do you define “women”? Can women without breasts be Femen? How about trans*people?

“Activist of FEMEN are morally and physically fit soldiers” — What does “morally and physically fit” mean? Can women who aren’t physically fit be Femen? Why soldiers? What symbolism is hidden behind the flowers in your hair? As far as we can tell, the self-conception doesn‘t make that clear.

„hot boobs, cool head and clean hands“ — How do breasts look like when they aren’t “hot”? Do breasts have to correspond to a socially prevailing ideal of beauty?
Presumably “cool head” refers to intellect. How is intellect defined and what about people who fail to reach the required level? What IQ is needed for joining you?
What is meant by “clean hands”? Our first association: “I wash my hands of it.”

How do you define ideology, democracy and patriarchy? In your self-conception one can find that patriarchy is limited to three fields: dictatorship, church and sex industry. How is patriarchy structured in your opinion?

Putting the self-conception presented on femen.org aside, we’d like to ask some questions directly to you as Femen Germany:
Why are the colours of the German national flag used at all and used that much? To what extend is feminism linked to nationalism in your opinion?

Schewtschenko is one of the Ukrainian founders of Femen. In an interview with the German ZEIT newspaper she states not to seek for abolishment of male denomination but for its inversion. The reason is simple: Schewtschenko believes that women are better in dealing with power and that they would not wage wars. “Why else would nature have given us the ability to decide about continuation of life?” (German source: http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2013-01/femen-herbertstrasse-protest)
Do you as Femen Germany share this view?

We grant you that women are discriminated against. This has to be counteracted. But the goal can’t be inversion of power. Instead, the asymmetric power relation itself ought to be criticized. We also decidedly reject your implied biologistic definition of “male” and “female” with distinctly different and naturally fixed characteristics.
What on earth are the contents of the campaign “Fuck the sex industry – the sex industry is fascism in the 21st century”? How do you define fascism?

A swastika substituting the x in „sex industry“, really?!
Why has the action been carried out so close to the 27th of January (Holocaust Memorial Day, liberation of Auschwitz)? We have no doubt you knew about that date’s significance, since you wrote the well known motto from the gate of Auschwitz “Arbeit macht frei” onto the gate of the Herbertstraße and used phrases like “prostitution is genocide.”
You equate the Shoa and porrajmos with prostitution as if women were industrially killed by the millions, only because they are women. This is quite incredible and not at all acceptable. Fascism, genocide and holocaust are relativized and belittled by this.

The German law classifies the unhistorical use of the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” as hate speech. Illegality aside, your use of the swastika and the above mentioned sentence render them socially acceptable again.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see you on February 13th in Dresden with your torches, side by side with old and new Nazis commemorating the women killed by the Allied Forces.

e*vibes

Here we go..

eh! – 2.7 Emancipatory Days
27th – 29th of April 2012
AZ Conni Dresden (R.-Leonhard-Str. 39)

“Mom – women’s libber types are those women who want to seize world domination aren’t they?”

In our days the word “women’s libber” is used as swearword, although emancipation as liberation from dependencies and suppressions to real self-determination is definitely nothing to be berated. This liberation doesn’t work if single persons or groups try it on their own. This liberation only becomes possible if different mechanisms of rule and discrimination are reflected and combated jointly.
The group e*vibes – founded in Dresden in 2011 stands for an emancipatory practise, deals full-time with emancipation especially with sexism as mechanism of rule. In cooperation with “DieSeR – Independent Club” and “squeerdance Dresden” we shout “eh!” from the 27th to the 29th of April 2012.
We are going to start with an insight into the interaction of categories like sex, race and class in capitalism, deal with some identities and standardisation, hear about the fight for physical self-determination in the inter*movement or learn how art can be used as an instrument of self-empowerment. Apart from lectures and workshops, film, concert, theatre and party are waiting for you. In addition, but there will also be enough time for joint discussions and networking. Don’t be afraid – there will be tasty food as well!

Some more: If we can’t dance (without annoying glances or comments) it is not our revolution. We are aware that discrimination as ever-present phenomenon will also appear at “eh!”. We do our very best to create a setting and a space as much protected as possible to make all those who are interested in the theme feeling welcome and safe. For this purpose a safety concept is going to be developed. Something that is very important to us: Our dealing with each other is as much part of the event as the “programme” itself.

Emancipation is a process which takes more than 2.7 days, but this weekend won’t be the last. We call on you “eh!” – Emancipation is not a bed of roses!

eh! Blog